You are on page 1of 5

26/11/2016 How To Optimize Your Diction In French ­ french learning article ­ italki

    

How To Optimize Your Diction In French

French  1409  6 0

Sylvie Tuaillon
Jun 03, 2016

The French accent is quite challenging. So how can you, as a student, improve your pronunciation? Well, one
effective way is to simply copy the accent of native speakers.
You see, French ( is a language that is not at all phonetic. In other words,
there is an inconsistency between the way we write it and the way we pronounce it. Therefore, one must pay close
attention to the rules of spoken French in order to speak properly and be understood. So, let’s have a look at some
French words whose pronunciation is unusual and that you might want to watch out for:
La noisette / Les noisettes
Le coq chante / Les coqs chantent
Consonants at the end of the words:
Une perdrix­To­Optimize­Your­Diction­In­French 1/5
26/11/2016 How To Optimize Your Diction In French ­ french learning article ­ italki

Un coquelicot
These examples are a bit tricky, and stand in contrast to a language such as Spanish, which is phonetic and much
easier to pronounce. However, don’t worry. French is really not a difficult language.
Nevertheless, speaking French properly can be difficult and foreigners’ accents can sometimes be quite
pronounced. I often have fun trying to guess the nationality of a non-native person who speaks French based on
their accent. This is because an accent gives me so much information about how my new foreign acquaintence
speaks. For example, if he or she talks mostly with their lips, they might be an English speaker.
Native speakers of other languages have various other unique speaking habits too, such as speaking more with the
internal or external parts of their mouths, making clicking sounds with their tongue or making guttural sounds with
the back of their throat. These different language habits can make it difficult to reproduce some of the more
challenging French sounds, such as:
Syllables with the letter r:
However, you should not dwell too much on the specific letters of the alphabet, being that the pronunciation of each
letter can differ greatly between languages. Instead, let’s have a look at some tips that will help you pronounce
French better.

Some useful rules

At school in France, we teach children to read words by syllable, which often includes one consonant sound and one
vowel sound.
La che ni lle de vien dra un jour un beau pa pi llon.
Furthermore, you should never forget to emphasize the double consonants that appear in certain words.
Ll : La che ni lle, le pa pi llon.
Ette : La fi llet te, u ne cô te let te, l'o me let te.
You should also remember to link certain sounds together when you speak. This is especially important in the
liaisons obligatoires. Examples of these include:
des arbres (pronounced: dé zar bres).
deux oiseaux (pronounced: deu zoi seaux).­To­Optimize­Your­Diction­In­French 2/5
26/11/2016 How To Optimize Your Diction In French ­ french learning article ­ italki

un grand éléphant (pronounced: un gran té lé phant). In this case, the d in grand is replaced by a t.
Sometimes, the only way that we know something is singular or plural is through a link. For example:
elle adore les fleurs (elle a do re les fleurs).
elles adorent les fleurs (elle za do re les fleurs).
However, there are also certain times when links are forbidden, such as in:
un enfant obéissant
un procès interminable
ils sont allés à l'école
j'aime les haricots verts
Finally, do not ignore French accents because they change the sound and meaning of words. For example:
É, È, Ê : Des pâtes ou du pâté
In general, French should remain fairly monotonous, with accentuated syllables that jump, hop and cut according to
our heart's desire. I let myself think that this is one of the reasons why so many people around the world love French
so much.

Other secrets to speaking French well

Secret #1: Speak slowly
The phrase savoir vivre à la française refers to the French way of life. This romantic image of France starts with the
way that we speak. In fact, there is nothing that matters more in France than communication. We strive to be as
comfortable, happy and serene as possible in life. For French people, one way to achieve this is to leave plenty of
time for talking.
This characteristic is notable in French films. They are often very slow, mostly because action is not considered to
be very relevant. The most important components of a movie are feelings and the comparing of ideas. Therefore,
speaking as slowly as possible will impress your audience!
Just think of how French people often take the time to drink a glass of wine with friends or share delicious meals
around huge tables for hours. They might even spend most of the day in a wonderful café or à la terrace d'un
restaurant just so that they can chat.
Secret #2: Be articulate and put space between syllables
You should realize that in French, the meanings of words are articulated though the syllables. For that reason, you
need to pronounce words clearly and put as much space between the prefixes, word stems and suffixes as possible.
This is important because a prefix can either accentuate the meaning of a word stem or be used to construct its
opposite.­To­Optimize­Your­Diction­In­French 3/5
26/11/2016 How To Optimize Your Diction In French ­ french learning article ­ italki

Similarly, the meaning of a suffix determines the gender (masculine or feminine) and the number (singular or plural)
of each word. Therefore, you should treat each syllable as a word in its own right.
Secret #3: Emphasize double consonants
In French, we have yet another way of adding some melody to the language: double consonants! It is very important
to over pronounce these double consonants when speaking, not just because they deserve it, but to avoid confusing
the meaning of one particular word with another.
Using these tips, you should be able to see a marked improvement in your ability to speak French clearly.
Good luck, keep calm and breathe French!!!

Image Sources
Hero Image (
oSL4to-rwDmjp-iHqWQe-HJJr7) by francois schnell ( (CC BY 2.0


Pronunciation   (/articles/tags/Pronunciation)


Sylvie Tuaillon (/teacher/2932911)   

Teaches French, Spanish 

I have spent the last 4 years living in the US. Teaching to children/adults and love it.

Schedule Lesson

160-180 ITC

1 comments about this article. Check the discussion!

(/teacher/2749825)  Benji B. (/teacher/2749825)   

Teaches French 

Schedule­To­Optimize­Your­Diction­In­French 4/5
26/11/2016 How To Optimize Your Diction In French ­ french learning article ­ italki

(/teacher/3065171)  Guillaume / Gijom' (/teacher/3065171)   

Teaches Esperanto, French 


(/teacher/3096689)  Joana (/teacher/3096689)   

Teaches English, French, Portuguese 



How To Pronounce In French (/article/201/How-To-Pronounce-In-French)

Do you find that French pronunciations are hard to master? Here we break down the French code, from each letter in the alphabet, to each accent, to each combination, and
even more…

 15409  100  43 (/discussion/76709)

View all French articles

Getting The Hang Of 7 French Quirks (/article/94/Getting-The-Hang-Of-7-French-Quirks)

Getting used to French takes some practice and some explanations. Let me clarify 7 big differences between French and English...

French  6276  22  4 (/discussion/73241)

Advice For Russian Speakers Learning French (/article/168/Advice-For-Russian-Speakers-Learning-French)

Here is a list of 7 commonly misused French words, 3 pronunciation tips and a great big explanation on ‘articles, do they MEAN anything?’ (Spoiler: yes, they do!) These are
mistakes quite unique to Russian speakers, so only a few things in this article may be of interest to a native English speaker...

French  2567  14  11 (/discussion/75059)

4 Magical French Expressions You Won't Learn In School (/article/714/4-Magical-French-Expressions-You-Won't-Learn-In-

Sometimes, we just don't have something substantial to say. Other times, we might be too tired to respond to someone with a whole sentence. It is in these moments that we
use fillers. Knowing and using these words can be a key advantage in sounding like a native speaker. Let's take a look at some words used in everyday conversation that aren't
usually taught in schools.

French  3103  15  12 (/discussion/115031)

View all learning articles (/articles)

English ▼

© 2016 italki HK Limited.

About (/about) Press (/press) Contact (/contactus) Support ( Blog ( Terms (/tos) Privacy (/privacy)

 (  (  (  ( ­To­Optimize­Your­Diction­In­French 5/5